Are pandemic puppies causing a crisis at rescue centres?

New research has found that more and more pet owners are having second thoughts, meaning many re-homing centres are facing a huge rise in pets in their care.

The lockdown ‘puppy boom’ is causing a crisis at animal shelters across the country. Since the initial lockdown, demand for kittens and puppies soared as people looked for four-legged companions during the pandemic. Pets4Homes saw 7 million pet owners searching for a four-legged friend at the peak of the puppy boom in May 2020. According to the Pet Food Manufacturers’ Association, around 3.2 million households have welcomed a new pet since the start of the pandemic, leading to a 23% increase in pet ownership last year.

Ahead of International Day of Charity on Sunday September 5th, leading pet insurer petGuard are shining a light on the great work done by Cheltenham Animal Shelter throughout the pandemic.

How many lockdown puppies have been given up?

Dogs Trust reported a 50% rise in pet owners calling to hand over their dogs between May and July 2020. The long-lasting effects of the pandemic could see as many as 25,000 dogs abandoned over the next five years according to the Battersea Covid Research Project.

Cheltenham Animal Shelter has recently seen a huge increase in the number of animals coming into its care.

Nicky Spanswick, Operations Manager said: “When comparing a typical day in January 2021 to today, we can see a 34% increase on the total number of animals being cared for at the Shelter and 60% more dogs. She added, “Just under 19% of all our current dogs are younger than 2 years old. Their lives may have been affected by restrictions and lockdowns.”

petGuard, who have provided pet insurance for over 37 years, has been looking to highlight the great work done by animal shelters throughout the pandemic. Alex Bennett, Head of Marketing, said: “As a nation of pet lovers, it’s no wonder that so many of us looked towards the company of a cat or dog during lockdown. However, so many of these animals are now having to be cared for by the incredible staff at Cheltenham Animal Shelter and other re-homing centres across the country and it’s important that we recognise the amazing work they do.”

Why are people giving up their pets?

There’s no single reason why so many people are giving up their pets. It may be that they’ve discovered they are actually allergic to their pets, they have less time to spend with their pet after returning to work or they’ve had second thoughts over getting a pet.

Battersea Dogs Home found that almost a third of people who got a pet in lockdown were first-time pet owners. It may be that for many people who bought a pandemic puppy, they just weren’t prepared for the commitment of owning a pet. Research from the Kennel Club found that ¼ of pet owners admitted to doing little research when buying a puppy in lockdown.

You can find out more about the pandemic puppy crisis here:


Notes to Editors

About petGuard

Based in Gloucester, petGuard have been providing specialist pet insurance for cats and dogs for over 37 years.

Contact – Alex Bennett, Head of Marketing by emailing

About Cheltenham Animal Shelter
Cheltenham Animal Shelter is a charity that has been helping animals since 1926. We rescue and re-home unwanted and abandoned stray cats, dogs and small animals from across Gloucestershire. We rely on the support of members of the public to help us look after approximately 650 dogs, cats and small animals that normally pass through our doors each year.

Contact – Head of Fundraising, Alison Jarvis by emailing

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